Tag Archives: Communication

Review your own photographs

Low flying aircraft

• Low flying aircraft •
Click image to view large
• Low flying aircraft • By Netkonnexion on Flickr External link - opens new tab/page
Every picture has its merits. However is there enough in the picture to interest and invigorate the attention of your viewers? Sometimes, like this picture, if you don’t have a point worth making then you should not really bother with it.

A picture is a wonderful communication.

But like speech if there’s no point there is no impact. To help you see if you have made a great picture here are some guiding points.

We are going to consider…
• What you are communicating:
• Presentation:
• Camera technique:
• Technical Quality:
• Visual Awareness, Visualisation, Seeing and aesthetics:

Looking critically at your own picture

When you make a picture your previsualisation of what you want to achieve is critical to the outcome. If you don’t know what you are trying to make how can you make it convincing? So try to have a mental image of what your picture it going to look like when you make it. If you can see the image before you make it you should have a good point in mind – a reason for making it. All too often snappers see something and just ‘snap’. That being the case, few of the images will have real meaning or impact.

When looking at your own picture you must see if there is really something there. Are you really saying anything? Are you really communicating with the viewer of your picture? Or, is what you have just made only a simple picture? To have real impact is to create in the viewers mind an image. An image that means something to them. So look at your picture and honestly ask yourself what is the viewer going to get from it? What will it mean to them? If you find that you have really said something in the picture then the first criteria for success has been passed.

To this end you should consider how successfully each of these things has contributed to the success of the image…

  • Personal input: have you understood and connected with the subject
  • Appropriate communication the message, mood, ideas, and information you want to pass to your viewer
  • Complementary use of the photographic media (mounting, projection, printing, texture of print etc.)
  • Appropriate imagination and creativity / suitable timing for the shot
What about the other things?

• Presentation: It is important to have a good presentation for your picture. Have you edited out distractions and sensor/lens spots, removed the errant sweet rapper littering the foreground etc. In other words, have you done the little tidying up tasks that make the image stand up as clean representation of your original vision for it? If it is a print, is it well mounted in a non-distracting way. Is the printing immaculate or are there streaks and spots; over-run and smear.

• Camera technique: Is the sharpness the way you want it – deliberate softness is fine as long as that is making an artistic point in a way you intended. Is the depth of field right for the composition? Have you emphasised the point or simply missed the point. Is the digital noise too high, or the contrast too low. What you are looking for here is to see if your prowess with the camera has come through. Did your technique work or were there any errors or mistakes that detract from the delivery of your point? Some of the other things to consider are…

  • Viewpoint to the subject – exciting, interesting, different, right?
  • Choice of lighting – does it complement or complete the subject or is it at odds with your point?
  • Accurate focusing – accurate choice of focus for the subject.
  • Appropriate quality and choice of exposure.
  • Suitable use of depth of field (aperture).
  • Appropriate shutter speed for the subject (and shot timing).
  • Highlights and shadows (ensuring detail is retained)
  • Appropriate quality and choice of exposure – does the balance of light and dark complement or detract from the subject?
  • Is the quality of the light effective or bland; does is make a statement or is it of little consequence?

• Technical Quality:
In this category you should consider exposure, colour and tonal control…

  • Absence of processing faults (dust, spots, hairs, processing artefacts, image damage by sharpening etc.)
  • Appropriate adjustments of colour temperature; hue, saturation, colour balance etc.
  • Appropriate tonal use and control of the range of tones.
  • Good image finishing: removal of distractions, removal of abrupt or discordant features.
  • Appropriate use of levels, curves, colour management, filters, overlays etc (post processing)

In this category you are looking to make sure that the image is digitally developed properly. Is the exposure even or has it been obviously enhanced and changed. Is the light effective to make the point or has the exposure not been fine tuned. It is easy to take a picture, but all these thing go into making an image. Think about what you are trying to achieve and does this picture achieve it with its colour and technical delivery/

• Visual Awareness, Visualisation, Seeing and aesthetics:
Do you think that your shot, the one you have in front of you sees anything different? Are you reporting what you saw or expressing a point, message, communication, feeling… does this picture have IMPACT?

  • Is the composition, design and cropping of the image an effective aesthetic construction?
  • Appropriate simplification (minimising complexity and clutter)
  • Distractions / intrusions should not divert the viewers eye
  • Good use of light, mood, texture and colour
  • Good use of masking/manipulation where appropriate
What you are doing…

Each time you want others to look at your picture you want to impress them, to lift them, to… well, get out your message or point for the picture. The type of questions I have asked above are aimed at getting you looking at your images with a critical eye. If you are honest, you will find that none of your pictures will be satisfactory in all of the above. But if you find you are gradually improving your standard of delivery you will see that the above get closer to ideal with every new picture. Critically reviewing each picture before you publish print or show it to other people helps make sure you are producing something worth showing.

You won’t be right every time. But you will see as you develop, your comments will begin matching those of other people. You will than have a benchmark that tells you if your work is measuring up to peoples view of it. Or, more importantly to see if your picture is measuring up to your original vision of how you wanted the shot.

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By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

Do you know what street photography is? A look behind the scenes

• Lady in black •

Click image to view large
• Lady in black • By Netkonnexion on Flickr External link - opens new tab/page
The street photographer looks to expose life as it is on our streets and much more…

What do we really mean by street photography?

The concept of street photography covers a lot of ground and means many different things to the people who do it. Simple descriptions of street photography might include things like:

  • Candid photographs taken in public places
  • Portraits and depictions of ordinary people out and about
  • Pictures telling the stories of people living their lives
  • The normal behaviour of individuals seen in public
  • Extraordinary scenes in ordinary places
  • The street environment with or without people
  • Things which catch the eye photographed in public places
  • Extraordinary sights amid people going about their daily lives
  • A micro-social documentary through a still photograph
  • The drama of an event in the every day lives of people on the street

Street photography is a broad spectrum subject. Mostly, street photography is about the sights and significant micro-events that attract the eye of the photographer in urban places or other popular places. The idea of “street” means where people can be seen. Or, where they “may” be seen. It is not absolutely necessary to have people in the scene. Although people usually provide the focus of interest.

In fact, beyond these simple descriptions of the craft there are other things. The need to have sympathetic framing, simple backgrounds, good composition and excellent timing go without saying – these are a part of photography in general. Beyond those there are other themes underlying the term “street photography”…

The environment

The ‘street” environment is as important as the people themselves in that it provides a context. The environment and the people together makes the scene interesting. Background provides the cultural context for the shot and so it is important to include it. Nevertheless, many street photographers will work to minimise the impact of the surrounding scene so they can focus the viewers eye on the behaviour of the people of interest. The choice to show the wider scene or to focus right in is both an aesthetic one and a contextual one. You have to consider what would make the picture as visually pleasing as possible and at the same time make sure you are able to show the subject in the best possible environmental context. Difficult choice – but an essential part of working the street scene.

Because the environment is important street photographers often prefer to work with lenses that give a wider angle than other DSLR users favour. A wider view captures the scene as well as the subject person. A common lens for street photogs would be a 35mm or 50mm fixed prime. These lenses tend to give you a more immediate correspondence with the scene you are in. They are close to the focal range and angle of view that the eye sees. They reduce distortion and give the impression of the scene through the photographers eyes. Street photography is a unique and real experience for the photographer. The best of them try to convey that experience in a very real way to the viewer too.

Black and white or colour

Most of the well known names in street photography worked with black and white film. Perhaps for this reason today’s street photographers tend to work in black and white too. It emulates an era of the past with a stark reality and a retro-cultural look about it.

Some street photographers dispute the (cynical) view that black and white is the medium of choice because it promotes a ‘retro’ atmosphere and see that as an insult, a cheapening view of their work. Instead they’d argue B&W street pictures have more impact.

It has often been argued that when you take colour out of a photograph it almost purifies the picture. Certainly much of the distraction is taken out. Colour does draw the eye. A Canadian photojournalist was once quoted saying…

“When you photograph people in colour, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in Black and white, you photograph their souls!”
Ted Grant

There is much to be said for removing colour to see the inner person. However, it is not obligatory to work in black and white for street photographers. Your choice is part of the way you present the scene you are photographing. There are merits in colour and in B&W media. Making the right choice for your picture is a part of the success of your final image.

• Green girls •

• Green girls •
Click image to view large
• Green girls • By Netkonnexion on Flickr External link - opens new tab/page
Sometimes pictures simply don’t work in black and white. You have to make the choice. There are no rules that say you must do street photography in monochrome.

Cultural context

Street photography is a worldwide phenomenon. However, there are undoubtedly cultural contexts that tend to make certain places more interesting. That is especially the case when the viewer is seeing something they consider exotic or out of the ordinary. Street photographers take pride in finding the ‘unusual’ in otherwise ‘everyday’ places. So where possible street photographers will search out the poorer environments, the degenerating places and the places that their viewers would not go themselves. On the other hand they may find interest in the very essence of modern culture and how that actually contrasts with local way of life there. In this way they can help their viewers see another culture, observe different behaviours, see another way of life or shock their viewers about how others live.

Seeing other cultures and other places in the world is part of the wider scope of the art. You may choose to travel to far away places. However, street photography is found everywhere. In your local town, urban area or event space you can find interesting and captivating scenes everyday. Watching your fellow citizens is great sport. It’s funny, serious, interesting, frightening and enlightening. Showing your culture in all its facets is interesting. It requires a strong sense of place, character and understanding of your subjects and where they are.

It is often the deep contrasts that make a street photograph successful. The ordinary and unremarkable are the things that are not celebrated because of our familiarity with them. After all they are in our daily view. Strange or culturally contrasting situations draw the eye. It is a part of the street photographers observational skill to isolate and therefore to highlight these inconsistencies in our view of the world. It is not about travel, getting around the world, but seeing into our own locality and monitoring the differences between each of us and the others who share our streets.

Taking this alternative look at our own cultural space is one of the really difficult things about street photography. Henri Cartier-Bresson, sometimes referred to as the father of street photography, once said…

To interest people on far away places… to shock them, to delight them… it’s not too difficult. It’s in your own country – you know too much when it’s on your own block. It’s such a routine… it’s quite difficult… in places I am in all the time, I know too much and not enough. To be lucid about it is most difficult… But your mind must be open. Open-aware. Aware.
Henri Cartier-Bresson

In his strong French accent, he was trying to express the difficulty of overcoming the ‘ordinary’ view and seeing the extraordinary things about our culture that are in plain sight.

Street photographers are the ultimate people watchers and observers. They look for the extraordinary in the ordinary. They are able to articulate culture through the medium of the very people they sit next to on the bus. They are in the scene and a part of the picture they are creating with others around them. At the same time they are documenting it and living it, but bringing out the things that other people miss.


Much of the body of street photography was generated in the 20th century. During the 19th century the film speeds were low and exposures too long for effective fast capture of people going about their everyday lives.

There is currently a huge resurgence of interest in street photography. It has come about partly as a response to a renewed interest in photography. It is also partly due to recent significant collections of work from street photography artists being published around the world. A whole genre has developed from the interest of key individuals from photographic history. Some of the great street photographers we recognise today worked in the years from around 1900 through to the 1980s. Some of the well known names are…

  • Henri Cartier-Bresson
  • Diane Arbus
  • Vivian Maier
  • Alfred Eisenstaedt

There are many more (See: Category: Street photographers  External link - opens new tab/page). These bodies of work are of key interest today to many people. Academics, street photographers themselves and ordinary people all have an active interest in the past and particularly of places they know. Their photographs offer a unique insight to both the time and place – but also of the photographer themselves.

Today’s street photographers are providing an insight for future generations into the way we live now. It is the ordinary and extraordinary things that happen in ordinary lives that street photographers want to search out. Diane Arbus, working in the middle of last century, is famously quoted as saying…

I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them.
Diane Arbus

Her interest and focus was on people who were different. She called them freaks. Often they were on the fringes of society as well as hidden from the eyes of the ordinary person. Today we are slightly more tolerant of the type of people she photographed. Nevertheless, we still label people who live differently by describing them in a “politically correct” manner. In effect that is a euphemism that is more damning than a direct label. Street photographers can open up the difficult lives that some people live – help them to become a part of a wider scene, a more tolerant world.

• All Smiles •

• All Smiles •
Click image to view large
• All Smiles • By Netkonnexion on Flickr  External link - opens new tab/page
Truly candid street photography is about bringing out the inner essence of the people you photograph.

Celebrating the rich diversity of people and the things they do is important. It makes human beings so different to the animals. We can and do respond so differently to each other and the situations we find ourselves in. It’s a cultural cliché that almost defines us.

Successfully seeking the essence of the person being photographed is an expression of the photographers vision and an exposure of a culture. It is another tiny revelation about ourselves as humans and as members of society at large.

Respect and communication, doing and being

One of the hallmarks of street photography is to be excited and invigorated. The situation may even make you nervous. This is right and proper. Representing people in a photograph makes you a conduit for who they are. You must respect them. Holding a camera is a responsibility and a communication. You are saying something to the people who see you working the scene. So don’t ‘do’ street photography as if there is a bad smell under your nose. Be a street person who happens to be engaging with people while holding a camera. Then you will be a part of the scene. With respect, and contact with the people you photograph, you become a part of the life you are depicting. Not only an observer, but a participant. Then you will see more clearly, the spirit of the people you want to document.

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By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

How to write great captions for your photographs

A caption about captions

• About captions •
A picture and caption from 365Project, a photographers social networking site.
Click image to view large
About captions – By Netkonnexion on 365ProjectExternal link - opens new tab/page

The power of the image is not just in the picture.

Often the image itself is not the main reason for displaying a picture. Sometimes there is a need for an explanation about your picture or something associated with it. Diagrams, an illustration of a point in the text, secondary ideas, are some of the many good reasons to have a photograph on display. However, to make the point clear you frequently need a caption for the picture.

In What about the title? I discussed how titles impart meaning and context about the picture. They capture an essence of the image in a short phrase.

Captions on the other hand are about good communication. The image, the title and caption together speak to the viewer conveying full meaning. So writing a good caption is essential. If you say anything in your caption that is at odds with the reason for the rest of the communication (picture/title/caption) you will confuse your viewer. So here are some ideas to help your captioning…

  • Think first… Captions like all communications need to be planned. Think about what you want to say, structure it logically, say only what is needed. Once it’s clear why you want it and what it should say, then
    write the caption.
  • Be brief… Say no more than you need. Reserve long explanations for the wider text.
  • Stick to the point… Explain the point of the picture and its relevance. Make other points outside of the caption.
  • Match the text to the purpose… Make sure that the tone of the writing is consistent with the main text, the purpose of the image and the title. If the caption is in a different style to the rest of the communication it will confuse the viewer.
  • Use appropriate caption format… Headshots might just be captioned with a name. Products may be fully captioned. For example “Useful Thingy-Widget showing rear wiring arrangement” explains the product shot. Diagrams should be captioned with a precise abstract of what they show. Detailed explanations go elsewhere.
  • Layout your caption neatly… If the text is arranged in a lopsided way, or if there is a mixture of fonts or other imbalances these will be obvious in a short caption. Try to make the layout attractive to the eye.
  • Resist repetition… If you have a picture of a cake the pointless caption, “Picture of a cake” serves only to frustrate the viewer. “A moist carrot cake is an ideal mid-morning confection”, says a whole lot more and still points out it is a cake.
  • Avoid replication… Do not simply write something in your caption from the main text. Complex explanations in the main text are usefully off-set by a succinct summary in the caption.
  • Avoid cliché… The tired or clichéd phrase in a caption will put off your reader. Try to make captions fresh, invigorating and crisp.
  • Explain or name groups… Six different widgets, three people or four piles of different beans all need to be explained. Name them, number them, explain them – whatever – but make sure the viewer knows which is which and in the correct order.
  • Be consistent… Each of the photographs you use should have a caption. Make sure they are all formatted the same, written in the same style, use consistent references (eg. Dia. 1, Dia. 2 etc) mounted in the page using the same graphical scheme. Deviations will confuse the reader/viewer and throw off their concentration.
  • Include credit, attributes, acknowledgements and links… You would feel cheated if your work was used and not credited. So afford the same courtesy to others if you are using images by other authors.
  • Fact check… Mistakes are glaringly obvious in captions because they are so brief. Check everything, of course, but be especially careful about captions.

Remember, your caption is one part of the communication. The reader sees the picture, title and caption as the full communication. So treat them as a single method of making a point to your reader/viewer. Make all three carry the same message overall. Use this diverse way to communicate with as much impact as possible. Your caption is a vital part of the overall delivery of your point.

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

Do you have an intention for your photographs?

Retired Aeroplane - Going wide really brings out certain features of a shot

• Retired Aeroplane •
Going wide really brings out certain features of a shot
Click image to view large.
• Retired Aeroplane • By Netkonnexion on Flickr External link - opens new tab/page

Consider the reason for taking a photograph…

I had cause to consider the nature of several photographs this evening. A judge was discussing the photographs in a competition. On several occasions he referred to photographs he was judging as “record shots”. This is not a negative term.

I have made several references to this type of shot in past posts. Here is a definition from the Photokonnexion Photographic GlossaryRecord Shot. This is a type of shot that you might use to remember something as it was. It is a type of shot that is a legitimate representation of the subject but without any deliberate artistic interpretation. But, there is the rub. What on earth is artistic interpretation?

It surprised me when a judge in a competition called the photograph above a record shot. I enjoyed taking this photograph. I had seen the aircraft on a previous visit to The Imperial War Museum at Duxford  External link - opens new tab/page. It is a replica of one of the wonderful fighter aircraft of World War II – a Spitfire. I had considered it for some time and had lined up this shot in my head for some weeks before my arrival. I was fortunate to be blessed with a great sky. The angle of the shot was in line with the movement of clouds in the sky. I put on a wide angle lens and took about 10 shots along the lines I had planned. I wanted to make the wing disproportionate to the fuselage to give it foreground weight and invest depth in the picture. With a wide-angled lens this would make the wing seem really wide and long.

I may not be an artist in the traditional sense. I know I tend to take a rather geometric view in my pictures. It’s my signature, my style and my pleasure. However, it is also my interpretation. In this shot I really took my interpretation to some length. The body is distorted, the wing out of proportion. The sky deliberately elongated by the perspective of the wide angle lens. But to me this view showed the plane off in a unique way and presented a powerful perspective. I think this picture is heavy on interpretation and personal vision. Call it what you will, one thing it was not, is a record shot.

So, this evening when I was considering a judges words on what he called a record shot I was suddenly reminded of my picture above. It struck me that very often the viewer reads into the photograph more than the author has to say on a particular subject. In the case of my picture above the viewer saw a straight forward representation of a great aircraft. I on the other hand saw an opportunity to display, in a unique way, the wonderful geometry that made this aircraft great – its superb flying design.

The two views, my geometric tribute and the judges record of a great aircraft, may not seem too far apart to you, the reader. Yet, to me it signalled that I had failed in my duty as a photographer to represent my vision. I had not convinced the judge that I had invested my personal view, my artistic impression, in this photograph.

As photographers we are communicating a point of view with every shot. It may be appropriate to devote time and effort to faithful reproduction, equivalent proportion and careful exactitude to create a record shot. That is a worthwhile endeavour.

It is equally important that at other times we express our interpretation of our subject in a manner that brings out our unique view, comment or observation about a subject. There are two issues to keep in mind. First, we should always have a clear vision about what we are trying to achieve with a shot. Second, we should be finding the strongest and clearest way to express that intention, lest our viewers miss the point of the shot.

More after this…

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Art is fickle but viewers are more fickle…

Yes, throughout the ages art has been misinterpreted. And, we must sometimes acknowledge that the viewer may not understand our point of view. You will never convey your meaning to 100% of the viewers. However, I believe that viewers have a right to expect that you make every possible effort to communicate your intention for the photograph and make your point as clearly as possible.

The difference between a record shot and an artistic impression may be a thin line. But if your photograph is to succeed there should be no such lack of clarity when conveying your communication or meaning.

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

Get talking to your street photography subjects…

Street photography: It helps to talk to your subjects!

Street photography: It helps to talk to your subjects!

The communications element in street photography…

Really, there are so many different ways to approach street photography that it is no surprise that people don’t know where to start. Today Mark Wallace discusses his communicative approach to the art. While some tend to be observers of people by capturing candids, he really likes to get into conversation and becomes a part of his own scene.

In the last street photography video, “Famous street photographer talks about his work” we saw Travis Jensen using a compact but fully functional camera. In the video today Mark Wallace uses a full frame, full sized DSLR. There is a debate about the camera you use in street photography. Do you go with a big DSLR and risk being really intrusive? Or, do you go with a little camera and risk not having control.

These variations on a theme are fine. Street photography is all about doing what you do best. There is no one way to be a street photographer. Everyone takes their own approach. This is exactly what is meant by your personal style. It is your approach, your way of doing street photography.

Digital Photography One on One: Episode 70: Street Photography

While street photography is endlessly fascinating the fact that we all take different approaches means there is always a benefit in listening to other peoples experiences. It helps you to think around your own approach. So, see what you make of Marks’ spin on the subject. Enjoy!
SnapFactory  External link - opens new tab/page

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By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

What about the title?

Pictures are like jokes. If you need to explain them, they don't work.

Pictures are like jokes. If you need to explain them, they don’t work. However a title provides context – not explanation. It is a part of the communication.

Explain your picture? Really?

All too often I come across pictures that are untitled. I think a title is very important. I would like to take a little time to explain why I think a title helps the viewer.

My image above is quite a strongly defined image. However, if you have no idea what it is, then no matter how strong it is, or how well it is exposed… you don’t connect with it. Pictures are like jokes. If you need to explain them, they don’t work. Every picture is a communication. The author, in seeing something and then photographing it, has made a picture they want to show others. To leave a picture untitled, or un-captioned, may be a type of statement. However, to leave the viewer hanging, is also a statement – one of disconnection.

It is true that some pictures explain themselves, or at least explain something of themselves. An untitled sunset for example is still a sunset. More to the point, it is just another sunset. There are millions (billions?) of sunset images out there. So one more untitled one is, well, just another. Unremarkable.

The title however, conveys the feeling the author has about that picture. It may not explain the picture. It will explain the point of the authors commitment to the picture or the context of its meaning. That is worth a lot to the viewer. A couple on a sunset lit beach entitled “The Power of Love” explains the authors meaning and connection to the image. Suddenly the image comes alive in the viewers mind. An insight is gained into the vision of the author in their dedication of the title.

In everything there is meaning

If you want your picture to be depersonalised from you, then by all means leave it untitled. Everything has meaning. Human nature reaches for explanation. An untitled picture allows the viewer to own the picture by projection. They put their own meaning into the image unguided by the author. If that is what you, the author, intended then the title should be a dedication to the viewer.

The title is a part of the communication of the image. Good communicators take every opportunity to pass the message. Think carefully next time you leave an image untitled. You are saying a lot about your ability to communicate and nothing about the image.

Oh! By the way. My image above is called, “New Rugby Boots”.

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

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Natural Light Portraiture – with reflected fill-in light

Make your natural light portraiture work

Love photography? Then natural light portraiture is something you will try at some time. In the video below we will see a few tips that overcome some of the lighting issues photographers encounter when starting these portraits.

For photographers just starting out, natural light portraiture is often about snapping shots of friends. Actually, portraiture as an art form in its own right. Why? Because the human eye is incredibly well tuned to viewing the human face. Get it wrong and it is blatantly obvious!

Snaps often result in a flat and poorly sculpted face. Bad or flat light leaves the face looking drawn or sick. Worse, it can look as if it is almost featureless. The way to get around this is to use natural soft light. The best light for this is during the golden hour. The low light will mean a big contrast between bright sky light and the side of the body away from the light. The answer is to use a reflector to fill in the darker areas of the face. Reflectors are cheap and available in lots of photography suppliers. You can easily make your own reflector from white art board too.


In this video photographer Karl Taylor shows you how to use natural light and a reflector to take a good natural light portrait. Watch out for his five key points. Enjoy!
Seen on YouTube: GreatPhotographyTips External link - opens new tab/page

Remember these?

  1. Communication
  2. Lens
  3. Aperture
  4. Lighting
  5. Environment

Key points worth remembering.

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.